Dress of Holocaust survivor on display

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WASHINGTON – The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in partnership with Northern Trust Company, launched the Silent Witnesses: Artifacts from the Collection of the Museum national tour in Cleveland in honor of the museum’s 10th anniversary.

This program marks the first time the museum, located next to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is taking an object from its collection on tour.

The exhibit is on view at the Western Reserve Historical Society, 10825 East Boulevard, Cleveland.

The dress. The artifact – a dress worn by a child who spent approximately eight months hiding in a dug-out hole with complete strangers – is one of more than 8,000 objects in the museum’s collection.

The owner. The dress now being displayed belonged to Lola Kaufman, now a grandmother living in New York. During the Holocaust, that summer dress made by Kaufman’s mother, was the little girl’s only possession.

Photo exhibit. The Silent Witnesses program also features a photographic panel exhibit highlighting the museum’s first decade. The display will highlight the impact the museum and its programs have had on people around the country.

It will be on view to the public at the Western Reserve Historical Society, through June 22. The society is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12-5 p.m.

Her story. Kaufman was born in October 1934 in Czortkow, Poland. In July 1941, the Germans occupied the city, and she and her family were later incarcerated in a ghetto.

Following the murder of her parents, Kaufman’s grandmother arranged for her to be taken in by a local woman who knew the family. Kaufman hid in her house for two months, until her son-in-law threatened to inform the authorities.

Lola was then moved to Anna Aksenczuk’s house and hidden with a Jewish family of three in a cramped, dug-out hole beneath a barn where they remained for approximately eight months with only brief nighttime outdoor interludes.

The others resented her presence, and Kaufman spent the time preoccupied with hunger and killing lice in near total darkness and silence.

Survivor. The Red Army liberated Kaufman in March 1944, and Soviet soldiers cared her for until her uncle found her.

Kaufman immigrated to the United States with her husband, a fellow Holocaust survivor, in 1951.

For more information on Silent Witnesses and other 10th anniversary activities, visit www.ushmm.org.


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